Civil Engineering Contractors in North Wales, the North West and the rest of the UK will be in high demand in the next five years, but despite the shortage of skills women still account for less than 10% of the sector’s workforce.
June 23rd was the second annual National Women in Engineering Day, which was organised in a bid to focus attention on the wide-ranging career opportunities available to girls and to help develop a passion for engineering in future generations of women.
The Royal Academy of Engineering suggests that we will need more than one million new engineers and technicians by 2020. In order to provide this number, we will need to double the current number of annual engineering graduates and apprentices.
The UK has the lowest proportion of women in engineering in Europe. However, it is important to understand that in order to tackle this crisis, inspiring girls to pursue a career in engineering is becoming imperative.
National Women in Engineering Day is the brainchild of the president of the Women’s Engineering Society, Dawn Bonfield. Bonfield saw the 95th anniversary of the organisation last year, as an opportunity to celebrate the work that women do in engineering and to encourage more girls to enter the profession.
The bid to increase awareness and engagement for the National Day exceeded expectations over social media, with their design hashtag - #NWED – trending above both Wimbledon and the World Cup.
Although great efforts are being made to address the skills shortage of civil engineer contractors in North Wales, the North West and the rest of the UK, it is mainly boys who are being targeted. However, the civil engineering sector is one of the most appealing in comparison to other industries.
According to EngineeringUK, mechanical engineering has the lowest proportion of female applicants which ranged from 6.4% in 2009/10 to 8.4% in 2012/13. During the same period, the proportion of female applicants to aerospace engineering declined to 7.6%. The proportion of applicants in general engineering and civil engineering was similar in 2012 and 2013, at approximately 16.4% and 16.5% respectively.
The question is, what is it about civil engineering that means it bucks the trend so dramatically? Many say that it is because it is easy to see how the work of civil engineering contractors improves the lives of so many people.
Atkins led a careers research study, which showed that four in ten women in the industry became an engineer through a family connection such as a father or friend who were also an engineer. This highlights the importance of having a role model, as for women this might give an awareness of what civil engineers actually do and can break down the stigma that civil engineering is only for men.